Tony shares questions and answers from his forum for women in relationships with narcissistic or emotionally immature people. The questions deal with narcissistic family systems, whether or not to "confront" or air out the narcissist's drama to the entire family. Two forum members share their "aha" moments, one bringing more clarity (their narcissist having to continually explain that they were a good person vs. simply being a good person). Another brings frustration (having to do with narcissistic projection and control).
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WUTN 58 Transcript
Hey everybody. Welcome to episode 58 of Waking Up to Narcissism. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist. And host of the Virtual Couch podcast. And please sign up for the newsletter, go to tonyoverbay.com. Sign up for that. I have a lot of things I want to share and I feel like it's going to be best done via the newsletter, but I will say one of those things is the Waking Up to Narcissism Question and Answer premium edition. That is a subscription-based podcast and the trailer is up. So please go find out, I'll put the link to that in the show notes, and that will be a weekly Q and A, and then the proceeds will go to help people who are in emotionally abusive relationships and help them get the help that they need.
So for today's episode, we are going to go to the Facebook group that I have for women that are in relationships with emotionally immature or narcissistic fill in the blanks, which always sounds like I'm saying that dirty rotten fill in the blank, but it's fill in the blank is it could be a spouse. It could be a parent, it could be a boss. It could be an adult child. It could be a neighbor, a friend, a company, a religious institution. You name it. So one person said that they had their big popcorn moment about a year ago, but sometimes they said, “I still get that late pop,” which I just love that concept. “The other day, my ex and I were texting regarding logistics of kids scheduling. And he states in the conversation, ‘The only reason I was asking that is because I was being nice to you.’”
And then she said, “It all the sudden dawned to me that no one else had ever said that type of phrase to me. No one else has to tell me that their actions were intended to be nice. They just let their actions speak for themselves. Then it dawned on me even more,” she said, “that I have heard him use this type of phrase to me so much more over the course of the last 15 years and to the kids and to other people. And it was just not a normal thing to do. How did I not see that until just now?” And she said it just blew my mind. And I keep a tab in my notes of talking to people when, and this is just from a curious standpoint, as a therapist, when people say things that they say them, and they assume that this is, this is a normal way that all humans communicate.
I'll give you another example. This one was pretty recent. Somebody was talking about there, there was a couple session and the person was saying, “He never got back to me.” And then the guy who initially said, “Well, I didn't get your text.” And then she said, “Well, but you then did talk about some of the things that I'd put in the text.” And then you watch him say, well, yeah. No, I may, I got your text, but, you didn't really, I didn't know that you wanted me to get back to you. And then she'd kind of brought some more awareness to something else that was in the text or the literally something that he had gotten back to her on. And then he said, “You know, I just actually had a whole lot going on right then. And it just really wasn't a good time.” And so then I felt like it was as if he looked over at me and said, how did I do? Did that work? And the reality is that isn't the way that we normally communicate as human beings that, “hey, I'm going to throw a bunch of stuff and see if any of these work, how about that?”
And I hope that both the person who would be speaking and looking at me saying, “Hey, did that work?” And the person that is listening to that conversation will see the significance of why I bring up this example. Because to the person that is listening, and if you are this kind, pathologically kind person that is just saying, “okay, well, I guess he didn't get my texts.” Except for he did. And, maybe, it was not a good time for him. Test your spidey sense? That doesn't really seem like a healthy way to communicate. Because to the other person, I want that person in this scenario, this guy to really sit with that concept, that it isn't a normal way to communicate when your first response is, “Well, I didn't get the text.” And then if she digs in and there's proof that you did get the text, then it just doesn't even dawn on you to stop in that moment and say, why, why didn't I feel that I couldn't say I just didn't respond. Or, I didn't know what to say or I feel like my response was going to sound like an excuse or any of these moments to self confront versus okay, next up, okay, I didn't get the text. It wasn't a good time for me.
Almost to say that if that one didn't work, he had plenty more coming. Probably had chambered up there, “Well, you don't always respond to my texts,” or, “Okay. What am I supposed to do to sit on my phone all day and wait for you to text?” Because I've heard all of those in my sessions as well, but that isn't a mature adult way to communicate. Because if we go back to that concept of these popcorn moments, I know I talk about them in more dramatic terms. So that concept of the popcorn moment is that the emotionally immature or narcissistic person is going to say things to try to get you to take the bait or they're pushing the buttons. So if you just sit back, and eat your popcorn and watch the show, then you'll see them start to cycle through all the different buttons that normally work. They may start with the, “Man. I am just a big piece of garbage.” and then they can almost subconsciously look over and see if you go. “No, you're not, you're a good person,” but if you just grab a bite of popcorn, watch then the next act might be, “but apparently you think that you have everything figured out.” Because that button's probably worked in the past. And then I say, I don't, I just have another bite. And then the next one might be the sad version of , “oh my gosh, what am I doing? I'm just, I'm going to lose my whole family.” Or, and it can get to be the really scary ones too that have to do with, “I don't even want to live. I hope that a boulder hits me” or these sorts of things. And then if you don't take any of those, the bait or let those buttons work, then you'll typically have the narcissistic exit where it's just the “Fine, you know what? This is a ridiculous conversation anyway, I'm leaving.” And I have more people when they learn to just stay and be present. But it's hard because those buttons are, they usually work. That's why people push those buttons.
But then they start to recognize, wow. It really is. It doesn't really matter what I say or do, because they are just looking for me to engage so that then they can get out of accountability. So I feel like the mini version of the popcorn moment, and if we call it a hot tamale moment or something, but in those moments, it would be, “I didn't get your text. Oh, that text. No. Yeah, I did. But I don't remember. You didn't really ask me anything. Okay, well, I guess that's fair. I mean, you did ask those things, but it really, it just wasn't a good time for me or, well, you don't always get back to me with your texts. I mean, if we're being honest,” so it's more of this junior version of, we called it junior mint version of the popcorn moments, but I just loved that she had shared that, once she was aware of that, she said that that just helped so much more. And a couple of the comments that I liked from people commenting about that post, someone said, you know, “Seriously, the things that we see when our minds are more clear and not being controlled anymore.” And I think that is such a good way to put it.
Someone else said, “When we were at the worst in our relationship, he would say, ‘You know, I'm not a bad person’ or sometimes, ‘You know, neither one of us is a bad person.’” And she said, “I was so baffled because I hadn't ever thought I was a bad person. And later realized he was just validating himself. But it really is telling because why would somebody really need to say that if they were showing up being authentic and emotionally mature and knowing, oh, I I'm not even, I'm not a bad person. We're just trying to learn how to communicate more effectively.” And, and so that can really, it can be an eye opener.
I want to get to a question that someone had posed, and I really feel like this is where we'll spend the time today. And I got the permission of everybody in the group or the people that had posted about this. So I'm gonna change some of the details just to preserve some of the confidentiality, but this is going to be talking about the narcissistic father. So this person said they need some perspective. And they said, “I'm so emotional that I can't even think straight,” which right out of the gate, I appreciate the vulnerability of this person, because when we are so emotional, we're, our amygdalas are hijacked. Our heart rates are elevated, our cortisol is flowing, and we can't access that prefrontal cortex frontal lobes of the brain. We can't get to our logic because we're just in this anger fight or flight mode. So she said, okay, “So my dad is the narcissist” and she said, “I've been no contact now for a few years. Until my mom's funeral, that was very recent.” And I'm so sorry to hear that. I really am. She said, “My issue is that I get a phone call from one of my siblings because my sibling is freaked out by my dad's girlfriend. And my sibling finally couldn't handle my dad's silence. So my sibling called to rant to me. She said, my dad doesn't want anybody to know that he's been dating someone since just shortly after my mom had passed away. But he is serious enough that he's introduced this person to some of his siblings and word is he's preparing to propose.” So she said, “When I say he doesn't want anybody to know, he doesn't want me or my other siblings to know. He doesn't want the members of his church to know, and he doesn't want my mom's family to know.
“So he's avoiding calls from all of these people. So she said, now I'm sitting here and I'm just really fed up with the lies and the deceit. And I just feel like I want to let everybody know. Like publish it to the world. I want everybody to know, especially my mom's family, who he really is.” And she said, “I'm guessing that's because I'm so mad because it feels like a betrayal of my mother,” but she said really doesn't her family deserve to know? And she said, “I think I would want to know if it was me, but am I just letting anger lead me to some toxic place?” She said, “I did just find out tonight, so I know that I'm super raw,” and then she just posed to the group, “is this legitimately something that needs to be shared.” So, let's break this thing down. One of the things I think is pretty fascinating, and these are the situations that I would not be aware of unless I was sitting in the chair that I'm sitting, working with, the population that I'm working with. But I can honestly say that within the last year I've had three different situations where the emotionally mature or narcissistic person got married within a month, two months, a very short period of time of the divorce or in this scenario, the passing of a spouse, and I'm, and again, who am I to be that judgemental? The point that I'm going to, well, I'm a therapist that has dealt with this, I remember one time working with somebody that had come to meet with me and they did feel guilty about moving on to a new relationship shortly after their wife had passed, but their wife, the more we broke things down, had been dealing with a terminal illness and had not really been herself for almost four years. And so this person had been reaching out and having a connection with someone for the last six months or a year of her life. And the irony here is that the wife had said, “Hey, I know you can't be alone. So I give you my blessing.”
But then he felt like if he shared that with anybody, then it was gonna make him just sound like a horrible person. So I, again, I know that the situations, every situation is different and this person had just such empathy and they were actually coming into counseling to deal with this. But the situations I'm thinking of just within the last year are, I'm just going to say the narcissistic person, who didn't even tell their children, their adult children, their teenage children, that they were even getting married. In one scenario, the person found out, the person that I, that I'm aware of, found out that their father had gotten married through a social media post of someone else. And so they just said that they just found out that this had happened. And, or another scenario where someone got married and didn't tell, they had several kids and didn't tell them. Which that's the part where that isn't and I'm going to pull the I'm the normal police card, but that isn't a normal way that people act or communicate. And I feel like that's where the emotionally mature narcissistic person does not want to deal with any discomfort or any invalidation and so they have most likely confabulated a narrative or a story that makes their version of that, the right version. That whether, well, I want to spare all of my kids, that could be painful or, well, um, nobody asked me if I was getting married, even though I haven't even introduced them to the person that I'm thinking about marrying.
So I think it's one of those just interesting things where I only see that admittedly in the emotionally immature narcissistic person, where they can quickly move on and then not tell certain parts of the family because they're still trying to control the narrative, because in my opinion, they don't want to deal with any invalidation or discomfort. So, let me start to work through what I thought were really powerful were the comments that people shared to this person that asked the question. You know, the first person and I just, I love it, just said, “I'm so sorry,” I mean, that's empathy right there. She said, “you have every right to feel the way you do.
And take a few days or weeks to think on this.” So I love the concept where the first thought is some validation, some empathy, and then saying, yeah, maybe calm that amygdala down a little bit. The next person responded and said, “I was surprised that my ex's family turned a blind eye to all his indiscretions and then decided to cut me off instead.”
And she said, you know, “Narcissists are very good at telling their victim story and oftentimes have their own set of enablers.” She said, “Just because you share the truth to them or about them doesn't mean that others will see or validate it.” And she says, I'm so sorry for what you're going through. So if we dig into that answer alone, which is so good, is that is where we start talking about the concepts around a narcissistic family system. So if the family system is more emotionally mature or narcissistic, then what ends up happening is let's just say in this scenario, the family doesn't want to think that someone in our family could do something like not tell their adult children or get married to someone so soon. So they're doing a whole family confabulated narrative of, well, what was he supposed to do?
Or, I'm sure his kids would not have approved. And he doesn't need to go to his kids and get validation. So they're creating a narrative, which is an unhealthy relationship because now we're triangulating, we're isolating. We're not being honest with our family because most likely there's been a pattern of that that has led up to this situation. And I appreciate her saying just because you share the truth of them doesn't mean others will see or validate it. And I think that is one of the most difficult things that people are dealing with, especially. When they are getting ready to end a relationship with an emotionally immature person. I have a couple of men right now that are in situations where they are looking at divorcing. And one of the things that comes up so often is the narrative that is going to be put out there that if in this scenario where the female is the narcissist or the emotionally mature person, that they are going to now spread the word that the husband was such a bad person. And he left me and I didn't want this. And so the husband at times will just be so just frozen by the narrative that's going to get out there.
That then it can cause him to start to feel like, “okay man, maybe I am the jerk.” You know, “what, what is wrong with me?” One of, I think a difficult thing is just knowing that as you come to realize what is best for you or what's best for you and your children, and need to do the thing that it might be a difficult thing to know that unfortunately, you still can't control the narrative and what someone else is going to say about why things happen the way that they did, the next comment I think is a, is a insightful one as well. The person said, “We've learned that narcissists can't be alone.” And I think, in this scenario, we're talking about the narcissist that we really go back to that whole childhood wounding and trauma, so they have no sense of self. And require external validation for their sense of self, which then also comes with a dose of no empathy or low empathy. Then they have to have someone in essence around them at all times for them to either take that one up position on or to go victim on and in order to understand how or who they are. And so they don't really have, again, that, that internal sense of self.
So she said, “We've all learned that narcissists can't be alone.” She said, “I think your mom's family will see his true colors over time. And you can be there to verify,” but she said, “I think your emotions are just super raw right now and you're hurt and you're angry.” She said, “Remind yourself, he isn't doing this to hurt anyone. He just doesn't care. He's doing this for his own selfish wellbeing. Don't give them the gift of your anger about the situation, or it will only make him happier. And you more hurt.” And I just, I think there's so much wisdom in that answer. That it can't be you, you, aren't going to be able to say, hey, everybody look at this, look what he's doing. Because it's going to make it sound like you are the one that's trying to be mean or make this person look bad. But if you just start to live more of a life of integrity and honesty, and not feeling like you have to convince others that you are in the right. If you know that you are in the right. Then you just do and you be, and you become, and people start to recognize that and those true colors do come out over time.
It's interesting if we look at that line, which I think people, if they have not been in this situation, they may think that, how does that make sense? But it's the, when she says, “Remind yourself, he isn't doing this to hurt anyone. He just doesn't care.” And that can sound really difficult, but it's not about hurting the other person. It's about needing that narcissistic supply. He is doing that for his own selfish wellbeing. And I love her phrase where she says, don't give him the gift of your anger about the situation because it will only make him happier and you hurt more.
And that will, that's where people then burn a lot of emotional calories and spend a lot of energy, trying to figure out the best way to navigate a situation with an emotionally mature narcissistic person. And that is giving them far too much of your time. It really is. Another person said, “Most men, whether they are a narcissist or not, struggle being alone.” She said, “Outside of the fact that he's a narcissist and he's been hiding this,” she said, “I might take some time to think about why it is affecting you so much.” And then she shared a story of her own mother being single for over three decades after her dad passed away. She said, “When I was younger, I didn't want her to get remarried because I didn't want a new dad.” And she said, “Now that she's in her seventies, I really do wish that she had a companion.” And this really is one of the things that I love about this group is that they are offering a variety of insights based on people's own experiences.
So in that scenario, I love that she's saying that. Okay. Yeah, it does stink and it doesn't seem healthy or the right thing to do. But every opportunity is an opportunity now for self confrontation. So is it something that just makes me mad? Is it something I have any control of, or is it just something that I need to let go? And then someone else said this and I love, I love her passion, this answer. She said, “I want you to hear me when I say this, this situation is so hard,” She said, “so many of us know. And when the information comes unsolicited from you,” she's talking about, I just want to shout, you know, shout from the rooftops that my dad's a horrible person. She said, when that information comes unsolicited from you, “it will inevitably make you look bad. Like you are the one stirring the pot or creating drama that you're the problem. And you will become the target or the scapegoat.” She's saying, “I'm not saying lie for him. If somebody were to ask or if it were to come up in conversation with other family members, confirm what, you know. But don't be the one to announce it in the world. Narcissists can't be alone. They need a supply. So it makes sense that he moved on so quickly.” And this person is so true and that is called the discard. She said, “Remember, you're no contact for a reason, not your circus, not your monkeys.” I love that phrase. “Keep your side of the street clean and you won't look like the crazy one.” She said, “Believe me when I say that this is the most frustrating and hardest thing that I was ever told to do. And when his world started to unravel, because others were starting to wake up,” she said, “I was able to witness from a distance which was the best satisfaction of all.” And I just loved this thread. And that is also hard to say, because I hate the fact that the person is posting this, but I just feel like it shows the power of people that are learning how to interact with the emotionally immature or narcissistic people in their lives and just the power that can come within a group.
And I want to share one more from the group today because I just feel this pattern is emerging of the way that the emotionally immature people communicate with others. That is not, and I'll throw out the word again, normal. Actually, let me play this one backwards. So here is an emotionally mature conversation. Let's pretend that my wife is going out to do something and it's when we had younger kids. And then I'm in charge of the nighttime routine. The healthy response or the healthy question for me to ask would be, hey, honey, what time are you gonna be home? And then she may say, I don't know, about 10. And if I know that the kids are normally down by 8:30, then. I know that that is my responsibility. And then I say, okay, have a great time. I'll see you when you get home. Period. And then I am going to take care of the kids. What a wonderful opportunity for a dad to be able to spend that one-on-one time with his kids and the nightly routine and being able to support his wife because no doubt, there are plenty of times where I would go out or I would be late, or I would be out of town for work. And she was going through the nighttime routine on her own over and over again. So there's a normal, healthy interaction. Now let's go to the way that this was presented in the group.
The person said, “I just had an aha moment about an issue that has been a huge one, our entire relationship. And it goes something like this.” She said, “I'll be planning to do something like anything, go to the store, go out with friends. Anything.” She said, “Literally go anywhere and my husband will throw out the worst case scenario. Okay, so you'll be home really late and you won't be able to help me with the kids.” So she said, I get annoyed that he's already decided what I'm doing. And immediately, I jump into defense and I say, come on. It's not going to be like that. And now he's got me saying, okay, well then I guess you'll tell me that you won't be home late.” And she said, “Without even telling you're asking me not to be home late when my plans, then if they even go slightly off what I've said, now I'm held to the decision that he made when he made me say that I would be home much earlier.” And she just said, “Does anybody else get into these twisted situations,”
And she said, “where, what would that be like if he just said, hey, what time will you be home? And then I can respond with somewhere between X and Y.” She said, “Like I know in my head that we could already have had a normal conversation.” And then, there were so many comments that were so supportive. People just saying this would literally happen all the time. And, one person said that her husband had a job where he was out most evenings. And so then when he would be home, she would try to go out and do something with her friends. And it was then continually about, well, what time and how late? And I guess now I'm, I'm in charge of everything. Someone else said, “I think we've had that exact conversation.”
And she said, “I think the key is jumping to the defense,” she said, “which is so easy in the moment. And she said, I've started just setting a boundary and saying, well, I didn't say that, which then will also turn into the, no, I didn't mean that. And I love the point that she made, where she said, they're just looking for conflict. And that is the truth in that button pushing, and let me try to just, I'm going to go on a little bit of a, just a train of thought here and talk about why does the emotionally mature narcissistic person push buttons to begin with? And here's just that scenario where it, when it wasn't modeled in childhood or when people just weren't allowed to do and be, that everything had to have an angle or everything. There was this, almost this social capital or currency in every transaction. So that, well, what are you going to do for me or, okay I need to make you feel bad so I can keep this in my back pocket and pull it out when I need something. So everything becomes this tit for tat or this, you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours, kind of a mentality. But what the emotionally immature narcissistic person doesn't realize is that isn't reciprocity. They're just trying to make sure that they will get their way.
So when the activity or the event benefits them, they're not keeping track saying, oh man, my spouse is an amazing human being. And now I owe them. I owe them the same respect if they want to do something. No, they go and do when they want to do, because that's what they want to do. But then when it's time that you want to do something, now here's an opportunity to make you feel bad or guilty. So that now they can have this, you know, again, this currency, this emotional currency to then use against you. To then make themselves feel even better when they want to do whatever they want to do, and then make you feel worse when you want to do what you want to do because that's impacting them. Because then all of a sudden, now they are being asked to take ownership or responsibility for something and it can be anything. I mean. You know, a dad can actually enjoy bath time with his kids, but it's the concept that will, where now I have to do that. Instead of looking at that as an opportunity that they have to connect with their children. So that question, it just leads to so many other, other thoughts or concepts around why the narcissist wants conflict. And it's because if you go to the very depths of attachment and attachment issues with the emotionally mature narcissistic person, this is where they weren't, they did not have a secure attachment with their parent. So it really did matter what they did or who they were, how they showed up in order to get their needs met. And so, this is that, it's that concept where a kid will do anything to know that they exist or that they matter, now matter doesn't mean that they are cared about, but matter means to know that they exist. So as a child, that constant conflict, whether they were doing something that they're, then they're emotionally immature narcissistic parent then said, hey, nice job champ. Yeah, you remind me so much of myself. Or, I notice how good you are doing whatever this, whatever it is you're doing. And that must be because I have taught you that. Or there's that conflict of the parents saying that, I see what you're doing there, and I was so much better than you at that when I was your age. But it's always, there's always a transaction happening. There's always a one up or one down position happening. So by the time this emotionally immature narcissistic person hits adulthood in their, in their relationships, that's just again, the air that they breathe. And so that can just be very, very difficult when everything does start to seem like what's the angle or why can't we just have a normal conversation or a normal night? Or why can't we just do things because we want to do them and it doesn't have to be, well, you did this and I did this and you never do this.
But that is the relationship. That's how that relationship evolves with an emotionally mature narcissistic person. So when you, then again, start to pull back, or disengage or not play into that, there's always an angle narrative. And you just start to go and do, and like this person said in the group, where they just said the key is not trying not to jump into the defensive mode, which is so easy in that moment. It's our reaction that we do. So when we can just know that it's okay for me to go out and it's okay for you to take care of your kids, because that's what we do as parents. That's why we have, when we have kids where we're signing up for that. Then I don't have to defend myself and I can come home when I'm going to come home. And I can let you know that. And then if that is something that then you will try to use against me, well then bless your heart. I mean, that's a you problem because we're too adult human beings and we're interacting in a relationship and we both have responsibility for these kids. And so we need to start changing the dynamic that the kids then are not the pawns to be used. To then have this, I don't know this emotional currency that can be used against each other.
So, we'll end things there today, but if you have additional questions, comments, if there's anything that this episode brought up for you, feel free to shoot that over through my website at tonyoverbay.com. And if you are looking to become part of my women's Facebook group, or if you're a guy who is in a relationship with an emotionally immature and narcissistic female, please reach out. Or if you are the person that is starting to say, hang on a minute. I do a lot of these things. I mean, and, you know, I can wrap my head around the concepts around emotional immaturity, and maybe I need some help starting to become more emotionally mature. Then I would love to hear from you too. And I just, again I appreciate all the support and we'll see you next time on Waking Up to Narcissism.
We all get angry, but what do you do with that anger? Is it healthy to express your anger? If so, in what way? Should you punch a pillow, or a punching bag? Or should you just hold it in, grit your teeth and smile through it? Tony breaks down the article “7 Myths About Anger (And Why They’re Wrong)” by Amy Morin https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201512/7-myths-about-anger-and-why-theyre-wrong and tells you exactly what you can do with your anger.Head to http://tonyoverbay.com/magnetic and get on the waitlist today to be the first to know when the next Magnetic Marriage Cohort begins!Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and follow The Virtual Couch on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/virtualcouch/
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Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.
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Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript click here https://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ
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[00:00:01] So a couple of weeks ago, my wife Wendy and I decided that we wanted to go see a movie and where we live in California was at the time relatively still closed down and just up the hill and across the California state lines that Nevada and Nevada had movie theaters that were open in limited capacity. But more importantly, they had popcorn with movie theater butter. So we looked at the calendar and we set our sights on going to a movie. Didn't matter what movie, but we were going to a movie in Reno, Nevada, and we were just eager to go and do and again, truthfully eat movie theater popcorn. So on the way up the hill, the traffic really wasn't that bad. And at one point we were just talking and and having a fun time. And we watched as this little fast gray sports car just zipped right in front of us. And I am talking right in front of us to the point that our car itself slammed on the brakes because we had some sort of auto cruise control that kept us at a safe distance from the cars ahead of us. And as that car cut in front of us, I said something like, that guy seems like he's in a hurry. And then Wendy and I continued our conversation and then is a bit of adrenaline, ran through my veins because I'm human.
[00:01:09] 20 or 30 seconds later, I change topics of conversation. And I just said to my wife that I felt like situations like those when a car cuts me off in traffic are almost like my mindfulness midterm exams. So I never have suffered true road rage. But I would absolutely be lying if I said that there weren't times where something like that would happen and I would immediately see Red and I probably would have driven fast right behind the car for a while to, I don't know, show him that I was mad. And I have processed so many stories in my office, people who have actually pulled people over or who have gotten into fights or have cut people off or have done a brake check or followed people for miles and miles out of their way as their anger just completely ruled their emotions. So changing your relationship with anger is a process, and it doesn't come easily and it doesn't come without intentional work on recognizing and admitting when and why you react with anger. So story number two, and before I jump into story number two, let me just say that the true irony of story number one, as it as we were heading up the hill to Reno to stay for a night and watch a movie, we received an email that theaters less than five miles from our home.
[00:02:19] We're opening up that very day, but everybody needs a little road trip now and again. So back to story number two, Rusty Eyer and I met each other in what could have been sixth grade, seventh grade. And we played basketball together many, many times and recesses and I think junior jazz leagues or junior alto hockley's. But Rusty was a good friend and he was a really good basketball player. And Rusty grew and grew and grew while I didn't. And then he moved out of our boundaries, our school boundaries, and ended up playing for rival Jordan High, the Jordan Beat Diggers. I was an alcoholic. So during our sophomore year of high school, we played Jordan and admittedly I was kind of cocky and I thought I was pretty tough. And Rusty fouled me at one point. And I remember I jumped up and I ran over and I was just I was mad and I got in his face or truthfully, I probably like his belly button. And I remember Rusty just kind of swatted me away like a little bug. And I went flying across the gym floor and I jumped up and I and I realized at that moment, oh, Rusty could crush me.
[00:03:23] Now, Rusty meant no harm. I had run up to him like I was going to do something with that simple suwat. I honestly vowed right then and there that I needed to get rid of my temper. And I swear to you, it left me and it really never came back for the most part. And I have told that story. So many events, corporate events, youth firesides, with clients in session, talking about making a decision and then never looking back. And I will never forget Rusty. And unfortunately, I learned at a high school reunion, actually my twenty year high school reunion. So that was quite a quite a number of years ago that Rusty had passed away far too soon. And I wrote about him in my twenty year high school reunion recap at that time. And his wife, Nikki, had reached out through an email a few days after that. So again, this would have been almost twelve years ago. And she thanked me for sharing his story then. And I'm happy to share it now that twelve years ago she shared with me that she read my then blog entry on my twenty year reunion to her and Rusty's kids, and she said that through some tears they had a really neat way to spend their night remembering their dad.
[00:04:21] So with that in mind, I really am grateful that Rusty either tossed me across an old gym floor some thirty five years ago. So once again, I hope his family stumbles on this podcast and someday they know that he truly was a great guy. That's done a lot of good for a lot of people, even just in the stories that I'm able to tell.
[00:04:37] But coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch, we're going to talk about anger and we're going to cover seven myths about anger and why they're wrong. And this is an important episode today. Anger is something that I talk about, I would say it's fair to say, on a daily basis. And so this article we're going to talk about an article by author and therapist Amy Maurin about seven myths, about anger and why they're wrong. And we're going to talk about the. Add in so much more coming up on today's episode, The Virtual Couch.
[00:05:13] Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode.
[00:05:15] I should have looked. I think it's 253 of the virtual couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified Michael Hamako, Trijicon Alibaba, but creator of The Path Back, an online pornography recovery program that's helping people reclaim their lives from the harmful effects of pornography. If you or anybody that is trying to put that behind you once and for all. I feel like I'm rattled right now. But I am determined not to rerecord this intro. But go to Pathbackrecovery.com. There you'll find the short ebook that describes common mistake that people make when trying to turn away from pornography once and for all. Again, that's Pathbackrecovery.com and my magnetic marriage course with Preston. Buckmeier has finished.
[00:05:53] The first round is complete. We are going to be announcing a new date of when the next round of the magnetic marriage course will be launching at any moment. So if you head over to Tony Overbay, dotcom magnetic there, you can sign up to find out when that next round is going to launch. And it was phenomenal. It was. I will I will have so much more to talk about with that. Interviews with people, testimonials, all kinds of things. So plenty more coming up there. But the first one sold out in a few hours, which was kind of a trip. Now we're going to have a lot more people in this next round. But please go to Tony Overbay, dot com slash magnetic and you will find out more about when it is available and head over to Instagram and find me a virtual couch there. And Tony Overbay, licensed marriage and family therapist on Facebook, and I have started to engage a bit more with the newsletter. So if you even aren't interested in the magnetic marriage course, there is a place where you can sign up on Tony Dotcom to find out about things that are coming up. Exciting things. And I will I will leave it right there. So today's topic is anger, and I love busting pop psychology myths. And so one of the myths that I hear so often and I talk about it on occasion, is this myth that the way to deal with anger is to punch a punching bag or hit a pillow or go scream outside or any of those type of things.
[00:07:13] And while I understand them and I have been doing therapy long enough that even when I started working in the first nonprofit that I did when I was in grad school, I believe maybe my brain has made this or inflated this story more than I really maybe more than it really was. But I feel like every office had one of those Bozo the Clown punching bags. And so I I swear to you that I remember receiving training or maybe it was just passed along by other therapists that the Bozo the Clown punching bags were in there so that if somebody got really mad, then you just had to take it out on Bozo the Clown. And I remember at the time thinking, yeah, makes sense. Or have them scream into a pillow or punch a pillow or any of those kind of things to express their anger. And I remember the more that I got into doing therapy, the more that that just kind of didn't make a lot of sense. And I remember at first, without having any data to back this up, feeling like what you were really teaching your brain, the more I learned about the way the brain works and the brain is, it's a series of habits and patterns. The more that you engage in a pattern or a habit, the more your brain thinks, OK, this is what we do. And so your brain actually then has it's almost like a software program that preloaded.
[00:08:23] So when you are starting to get angry, it wants to skip some steps. And once you get right to the end, you know, when your brain really believes this is what habits are all about. Right. But when your brain really believes that this is what we do, we start to get angry, then we get really angry. Then your brain's like priming the pump to say, all right, this guy is getting angry. He's going eventually hit a pillow or punch Bozo the clown or chase somebody down in traffic or really yell at somebody else so that he can then be finished being angry. So it kind of tries to start to get you there quicker. So it really made sense that wouldn't we want to start to train our brain, that when you start to get angry or your mood starts to get elevated, that you would do far better to start to calm yourself down, in any way that that would work, whether it's a good old mindfulness breathing exercise or whether it's going outside or getting in touch with your feelings, your emotions are trying to hear the sounds around you or the smells or that sort of thing, because then what are you teaching your brain? You're teaching your brain that when we get angry, eventually this guy is going to calm down. So let's go ahead and start calming down. So it seemed to make so much sense.
[00:09:28] And so that's why I wanted to put together an episode really on anger. And I found this article called Seven Myths About Anger and Why They're Wrong by Amy Morrin. She's a licensed clinical social worker and she's author of the book Thirteen Things that Mentally Strong People Don't Do. So let's hit each one of these seven myths and then I want to throw some commentary out. So the first myth that Amy talks about is that anger is a negative emotion. She says it's not bad to feel angry. Anger is a normal, healthy emotion. And in fact, a lot of really good things can stem from anger and angry feelings can lead to positive change. Yeah, she talks about many social injustices, have called for people who became angry. What if Martin Luther King Jr. had never felt angry as
[00:10:12] an example, so anger, I want to look at that as a negative emotion, anger is just that. It's an emotion. So I find that a lot of people and this is where I will probably have a recurring theme today when people say, I know I shouldn't get angry. And again, I will say every day of the week that no one likes to be should on, not even our own brain. So when we tell ourselves what's wrong with me or I know I shouldn't be angry, I like to reframe it. I'm doing it right now as I'm holding my hand up in the air as if I am holding some something to show someone else. And that is your your thought or your feeling. So instead of saying I, I know I shouldn't feel this way, I love reframing things to say, check it out. I'm feeling angry, because when you look at feelings that way or emotions that way, when it's more of a oh, check it out, I'm getting I'm getting charged right now or man, check out the sadness I'm feeling, then you can kind of step back and take a look at that emotion and really take a look at it from all angles. And you can see. All right, what's leading to this emotion, what's leading to this anger? And it has taken me however many minutes this is into this episode to reference my very favorite therapeutic modality, acceptance and commitment therapy, which we will again refer to from this moment forward in this podcast as ACT and Act talks about you have those feelings and emotions because you are a human being and because you are the only version of you that has ever walked the face of the earth.
[00:11:32] So if you are angry in a situation, it's not that anything is wrong with you. There's no I know I shouldn't feel angry or what's wrong with me for feeling angry. It's a I'm a human. I've experienced life up to this point in a certain way that no one else has. So check out this anger. I'm feeling angry. I'm noticing that I'm feeling angry, and an act there's some really neat techniques to be able to take a step back. So instead of I'm angry, it's I'm feeling angry. I notice I'm feeling angry. I notice I'm feeling angry because I'm feeling what a lack of control in this situation or I'm feeling unheard or I'm feeling like this is the only way that anyone will listen to me. So when you really look at that, anger is not a negative emotion, but anger is an emotion, then it's a little bit easier to kind of step back and say, check out this anger.
[00:12:19] So that's one of the first myths that I think I would that I love that we're debunking. Or one of the first myths about anger that we're discussing is that anger is not a negative emotion. Anger is an emotion. And so it's not bad to feel angry, but it is the first step in trying to realize why am I feeling angry right now? You know, let's let's kind of look at all the data. And that's one of the first steps to being able to learn to change your relationship with anger or have a different reaction when something that has previously caused you to feel anger happens like take the example I give at the beginning of this episode, a person cutting me off in traffic. I used to feel very, very angry. Now I realize, OK, the person cut me off in traffic. It's not that they think that I am a horrible person. It's not that they purposely saw our car and said, I know what I'll do, I'll cut that person off. And that what really ticked them off because I don't like that person. There was none of that. I mean, I can only imagine or they could only dream if I was that special that I had that kind of control over the universe.
[00:13:18] But I don't I'm driving. They cut me off. That's interesting. Was it scary? Yeah, my my body thought it was because the adrenaline came rushing in about 30 seconds after I noticed the event because I'm human. And would it have benefited me to go chase that person down and give them the what for teach them a good lesson? I don't believe so. But being able to change my relationship with that anger and being able to be fully present, we were able to work through that within seconds. There wasn't really anything to work through. It was more of a noticing things. And when you really look at the concept of emotions in general, we have them all the time. We have several tons of emotions even in every given minute. So at that moment, I chose to not engage in that emotion. And this is one of those fun things I love where I know I've done episodes where I kind of take on a little bit of that, hey, just choose to be happy in the morning and you will I feel like that is a great start, that I'm going to make the choice to be happy. I'm going to focus on happy things. I'm going to set myself up with with some good old happiness, confirmation bias.
[00:14:21] I'm going to look for the things that would bring me joy instead of looking for the negative aspects of life. But in the same breath, I can choose to be happy. And then when negative things happen throughout the day, when I do find myself losing my patience or my temper or control or someone does something external that affects me, and instead of if I realize that I'm not happy in that moment feeling like, well, what's wrong with me? I chose to be happy. It's another example of why we had emotions throughout all all throughout the day so we can be hanging on to this this happiness throughout a day and then something can happen that will cause us to not feel happy. And instead of saying, well, there goes the day, it's fascinating to be able to step back and say, OK, now I'm noticing anger or now I'm noticing fear or now I'm noticing hope. And so that's a. I feel like that's one of the best ways that you can realize that I have a lot of emotions, so I'm not going to I'm not going to chase after this one. I'm not going to chase after anger right now because I don't find it very productive.
[00:15:24] Ok, myth number two is that anger is the same thing as aggression. And a lot of people confuse angry feelings, aggressive behaviors, and combine them as if they're one in the same. So while feeling angry can be a healthy expression, a healthy behavior, aggressive behavior isn't, aggressive behavior is again, a control issue. It's not something that is going to keep a conversation going. It's not going to be necessarily helpful or productive because there are a lot of ways to deal with anger without resorting to threats or violence or aggressive behavior. And this this causes me to think of primary and secondary emotions. And I know that I've had a couple of episodes where I will reference primary and secondary emotions. And as a quick reminder, a primary emotion there. They're fairly simple to understand. They are your immediate reaction to events. So there's going to be some precipitating event and that's going to cause you to experience an emotion. The example I love giving is when my kids went through this phase where they loved scaring me when I was young father, they were younger kids. You would come around, you would come around a corner, and all of a sudden a kid would jump out at you and scare you and you would immediately react. You would. And then you would say, OK, come on, guys, knock it off. That that's not funny. And so the primary emotion was actually surprise or the primary emotion was embarrassment of reacting the way that I did to my kid.
[00:16:48] And then a secondary emotion is then and this is why it gets turn's emotions into these complex reactions. So the secondary emotion increases the intensity of your reaction. So the secondary emotion is when you feel something about the feeling itself. So all of a sudden I'm feeling anger about being embarrassed. And so differentiating between primary and secondary emotions is a pretty powerful coping skill. So if you view anger as, again, an emotion and you can separate that primary or secondary emotion, maybe I'm angry because I feel injustice, or maybe I'm angry because I feel like something is unfair. I'm angry because I was embarrassed. Or so if you look at anger again as a secondary emotion, a lot of times separating that secondary and primary emotion allows one to avoid aggression. Let's go to myth number three is that anger management doesn't work. And I hear this one often have said on occasion that when you are a beginning therapist, a lot of times you're given some pretty interesting gigs. I think I was about to say bad gigs, but I don't want anyone to think that if they are going to anger management class or if they've been even mandated by a court or their some condition where they have to go to a 52 week anger management course, because that's that's what a lot of them are. They last an entire year and they're weekly.
[00:18:10] But anger management does work. So anger management not working is a myth. So when people lack skills to manage their anger, Amy Martin talks about their emotions, can cause problems and all kinds of areas of their life. And that's where I feel like when you look at anger as a control issue, a lot of people and I'll go gender stereotype, a lot of men really struggle with anger because they don't necessarily have the ability to use their words. Being a little facetious when we're talking about talking to kids, "hey use your words, buddy. Don't don't throw a tantrum. Don't pout". those the lack of being able to express oneself can result in the secondary emotion of anger. And at times that anger can just lead the person's every interaction. So what anger management does is it allows people to recognize better ways to cope. So, again, a lot of the relationship troubles or career issues or legal problems result from an unhealthy expression of anger. And so these anger management classes are going to a therapist or learn in mindfulness tools or all of the above can help individuals reduce aggressive outbursts. Myth number four that she talks about with anger is that anger is all in your head and anger involves a lot more than just your mind. And if you think about the last time that you felt really angry, she points out that it's likely that your heart rate had increased to your face, most likely grew flushed and your hands maybe shook.
[00:19:35] And that's because anger evokes a physiological response. And it's that response that often fuels the angry thoughts or aggressive behaviors. So learning how to relax your body or relax your mind becomes a key to reducing aggressive outburst. And here's where you might want to have your finger ready on that advance button on your podcast player. But I had someone literally yesterday in Sessions who I've worked with for quite a while, and I'm so grateful when people feel safe enough to ask these kind of questions. But it was the old question again about mindfulness and hearing me talk and talk and talk about mindfulness or talk of abouthe app Headspaces that I use to practice a mindfulness activity and saying, OK, I, I hear you say it all the time, but I really don't understand, is it trying to clear your head of thought? And it is absolutely not trying to clear your head of thought. And the reason I bring it up with this myth number four of anger being in your head is when Amy Mirin talked about a physiological response, is that your emotions are designed to lead your logic. And that's one of these amazing things about the body. And it is such a go to bit for me now to talk about. But it was a very real experience in my office where one morning I opened the door.
[00:20:50] I walk a client out and I look down on the ground. And at first glance I just thought, that's something on the ground. I really didn't know what it was. I now kind of like to give the example of, hey, if it's a shoelace, then my immediate reaction is still going to be to pull back a little bit and then look down and say, oh, it's a shoelace. So in reality, my emotions are leading the way of my logic. My emotional response was there before I could even think of whatever this thing was on the ground. This thing on the ground happened to be a little snake, a little garter snake that had gotten into our building. And when the next client came walking in from the waiting room, we looked down and I said, OK, that's a snake. And I realized I have to I have to be calm and then get the snake out of the office. But the example then is there are a lot of times now that if I glance down on the ground, my first response is a visceral response, a gut response, an emotional response. And then my logic kicks in and says, OK, that's not a snake, that's a stick or that's a twig on the ground. Or when I walk out the back door of my office to get to my car, there is this little sponge that's been on the ground for I can't tell you how long in the first two or three times I look down, it seems so out of place that I have this visceral or emotional response automatically before I realize it's just the sponge.
[00:22:02] I don't know what I thought it was, but I have this physiological response. So when your emotions leave, your logic, your emotions are what already get, your heart rate increased and when your heart rate starts to elevate, then your fight or flight response is beginning to kick in. Your body is starting to do what it's designed to do, because if your heart rate elevates your cortisol, starts flowing through your body, the cortisol, it it says, hey, amygdala, hey, you know, fight or flight response, Neanderthal brain, caveman brain, reptilian brain, wake up because there might be danger that might be a snake on the ground. And then once you look and your heart rate's already getting elevated and you see that it's just a stick, then we can kind of calm your jets, we can cool down. And when your amygdala is firing up, when the stress hormone cortisol is firing up there, the part of your brain that is more logical, this prefrontal cortex, frontal lobe, it is it is shutting down. If you had yourself a nice functional brain scan going, you would watch as if light switches were turning off all the parts of your brain that are there to process and make sense of things.
[00:23:05] And so this physiological response that anger provides is there inherently for a good reason for that fight or flight response if you're about to get attacked by a wooly mammoth or a saber tooth tiger. The problem is when people go to that anger response on a regular basis, that actually becomes the the brain's path of least resistance that kind of defaults to this this visceral or angry response. So anger is all in your head again is a myth, but you need to practice mindfulness, in other words, on a daily basis. If you are practicing breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, letting your thoughts run, letting your thoughts go, and then when you recognize that your thoughts have run or they have gone, then not beating yourself up about about, OK, man, I'm not even focused on my breathing anymore. But then coming back to focusing on your breath, I've thought often about doing a meditation episode where I do a nice guided meditation and I think I need to do that at some point. I was literally going to do it for episode 200 long ago. Now we're episode 253 and I, I still and pulled the trigger on that. But while I love an app like Headspace to do a daily mindfulness activity, there's also ones called 10 percent happier. There's a lot of them out there. One of the simplest ways to practice mindfulness, I literally do this just about every night as I go to bed and I do this when I just have even 30 seconds or if I pause a lot of times, if I'm somewhere like at a church or in a line or something, and there's just a pause while you're waiting for some something to happen, you breathe in through your nose and on the breath you count one and then breathe out through your mouth and on the out breath you count two.
[00:24:40] So then on the in breath, you would count three, the outbreath you account for and just try to get to ten. It sounds easy. It sounds simplistic, but it's fascinating to watch on a lot of days I'm, you know, one, two, three, four. And then I'm thinking about lunch. And then when you recognize, OK, I'm no longer counting, then don't don't beat yourself up. Just kind of be aware that I'm no longer doing the mindfulness activity. And then I start over at one and two, you know, in and out. And every now and again I'll find myself at 15 or 16. So I even blew right past ten. But what You're doing as you are practicing this almost catch and release of thought, so your thoughts start to wonder and Rove and go, and then when you are aware of your thought, then you come back to the breathing or come back to the breath.
[00:25:24] And when you are doing that in through the nose, out through the mouth breath, you are literally lowering your lowering your heart rate and calming that fight or flight response down. So anger not all in your head. And there are things that you can do to practice learning how to bring yourself back to the present before your brain goes all Neandertal or goes all fight or flight. But here is myth number five is honestly one of the reasons why I wanted to do this episode. Myth number five, that venting your anger releases it. Punching a pillow, trashing the room or screaming to your heart's content doesn't actually release your pent up rage. In fact, research suggests that venting your anger in this way actually has the opposite effect. The more you vent in actuality, the worse you'll feel. And I like to look at it this way. Your brain wants to operate on patterns. Your brain doesn't like ambiguity. And the more that it can develop a pattern, the quicker that it can put that pattern away into this habit center of your brain. And if your brain can pull out of the habit sooner, it's going to use a lot less electrical activity. So your brain is designed to make things habitual, whether it's habitual thoughts or habitual actions. So if you have this this pattern of behavior in your brain where you get angry and then you punch a pillow or you punch a Bozo the Clown doll, or you go out and do a nice primal scream, then what your training your brain to do is when your your heart rate elevates the cortisol releases and you get angry, then you eventually are going to take that anger and then really explode.
[00:26:59] So you're creating this pattern of behavior of that. Instead of when I get angry, then I call myself down. It's when I get angry, I have to just explode to then complete this cycle or this pattern. So what I love encouraging my own clients to do and what I've been practicing myself for ages is when you start getting elevated or you start feeling angry, then you've already been practicing this mindfulness technique. So your emotions are already locked in and saying, OK, when this guy starts to get angry, when his heart rate starts to elevate, we already know that he's going to do his whole breathing thing and bring himself back to the present. So let's go ahead and start him breathing. You know, let's go ahead and start calming that heart rate down. So it says if it's not that I don't ever get angry, but that emotional response or that impulsive response to anger isn't as likely to fire, you know, automatically. So venting the anger, it's a myth that that then releases the anger in reality, learning how to be aware or notice anger. Do a quick check in and see if you can separate that primary and secondary emotion and then being able to turn back to some nice centering or breathing exercise.
[00:28:10] The more you do that, the more you're going to create this new pattern of behavior around anger. And when you feel angry, instead of needing to vent the anger, your brain's already going to go into this Zen mindfulness mode. You're gonna be grabbing your yoga mat and your ponytail and then being able to sit there and be more present, which very quick side note or tangent. I think that that is a funny reference because I'm bald guy. So when I talked about learning mindfulness or going all Zen, I would talk about, you know, you're trying to get to this point where you literally are sitting on the floor, cross legged yoga mat robe, ponytail, and that's my impression or my view of what Zen looks like. And when I had a client at one point where I think we had had a zoom session and so we're talking and I'm talking about this mindfulness and I threw out the ponytail and yoga mat reference. And then I think it was it was a couple of weeks later and this person had reached out to me and threw a message and it said something remind me something about mindfulness. And I went to Amazon and I found a clip on Ponytail and a yoga mat. And I just sent these two links and I thought it was one of the most clever responses known to man.
[00:29:14] And then I didn't hear back from the person. When we met up again, he said, hey, so was I supposed to buy the the clip up ponytail or the yoga mat or. I don't know if that was intended to me. And then I felt really embarrassed because I had not laid out that I that was my attempt at humor, that if I'm sending you the the clip on Ponytail and yoga mat, that means I am encouraging you to go all Zen and mindful. All right. Myth number six, we're almost done. So let's let's get through this one. Ignoring your anger makes it go away. So I feel like that one, you probably can answer this one yourself. So suppressing anger here. We just talked about venting anger and venting your anger releases it. So ignoring your anger, though, doesn't actually make it go away. I know that can sound contradictory, but suppressing anger isn't healthy either. Smiling to cover up your frustration or denying your angry feelings or allowing others to treat you poorly in an effort to keep the peace can then cause you to then actually internalize your. Anger or it's it's causing. It's causing you to turn your anger inward and immigrants, that is suppressed. Anger has been linked to a variety of physical and mental health issues, from hypertension to depression. So what that is saying is that you don't need to just eat or swallow your anger.
[00:30:27] But if we go back to that myth number five of that venting, your anger releases that and that, we're saying that that's false. Then what do you do with your anger? You don't want to suppress it. It's literally being able to be aware of your anger, being able to tap in again. Is this a primary or a secondary emotion of being able to acknowledge my anger, not try to push my anger away, make room for my anger, breathe through my anger? Because if we remember this whole concept of what is called psychological reactance or that instant negative reaction of being told what to do, we do that in our own head. So if I'm telling myself to not get angry, my own brain is going to say, I'll do whatever the heck I want. In fact, I'll get more angry. So being able to recognize that anger, notice that anger. And it's so funny as I'm sitting here and I didn't record video on this one today, but my hand I'm holding my hand up in front of me because I'm so I want you to reframe instead of that, I'm angry. What's wrong with me? It's a man. Check this anger out and I'm holding it up in my hand in front of me, because if we can separate that, I'm a nice person, but I may get angry and we externalize that problem.
[00:31:30] Then we start to look at will win. When does this anger come upon me? You know, this anger, if we externalize it, look at it as if it's a black cloud. And when I am feeling we'll go with the traditional hault, hungry, angry, lonely, tired, that acronym that maybe when I'm feeling one of those emotions or one of those things is happening in my life that then here comes anger. It descends upon me. I'm still a nice person, but look at this. Here's anger, so I can't ignore it either. So acknowledging it, there you are. Anger, you know, even thanking my brain for. For what? The purpose that it's trying to is maybe trying to get me to feel angry because I have a primary emotion of feeling unheard or there's injustice or things aren't fair. So my brain's already preloading the the old hey, you get mad about this now, you know, do we need our secondary emotion of anger? And so being aware of anger, make room for anger, don't ignore your anger, but then just venting it or breaking dishes or yelling or screaming isn't a way to deal with it as well. So it really is being able to acknowledge it, make room for it, breathe through it, go back to the present, turn to value based activities, things that mean something to you. And that's the way that we're really going to to work through anger.
[00:32:39] And the seventh myth that Amy shared is that men are angrier than women. And she said that research consistently shows that men and women experience the same amount of anger, but they do express it differently. So while most men are more likely to be aggressive or impulsive in their expressions of anger, the research shows that women are more likely to use an indirect approach, like maybe cutting someone out of their lives or maybe being a little bit more passive aggressive with the comment. So if you feel like you are being picked on as a man, that you're you're not given any breaks or you're it's assumed that you are always the angry one and that the woman in your life never experiences anger. I would say that they they you both experience anger. But again, it's how that anger is expressed. So let me kind of go through a little bit. She gives a little bit of data on healthy ways to deal with anger. And again, this is Amy Mirin, and I really appreciate what she shared in this article. She said, The best way to deal with anger is to really find a healthy way to express it. So turning anger into something constructive, such as creating positive change or responding assertively is the best way to cope with angry emotions. And that before you can express these emotions, then you really do need to understand how you're feeling.
[00:33:47] So it's important to to identify when you're feeling disappointed or when you're feeling frustrated. And again, that can be part of practicing. What's your primary emotion? What's your immediate reaction? And then that secondary emotion is, in essence, reacting to the reaction and pay early pay attention to early warning signs that you're you're feeling angry. Are you becoming angry because you can really start to notice the patterns of behavior. You can start to notice triggers, because if I know that every time my kid, if they come in late from for curfew, that I'm going to be angry because that's a pretty easy one, then then work on calming yourself before you need to have that exchange. If your kid's coming in late from curfew and so that you don't already you haven't already been consumed by anger because of you. It's fascinating, too. If you look at that example in particular, a lot of times that that's a that's a good old attachment wound or an abandonment wound where we may sit there as a parent and feel like I have to get angry or my kid isn't going to hear me. And so while we may have created that pattern of behavior, that doesn't mean you can't change that pattern of behavior. So if you go into a situation like that and you are calm because you're working on your anger, that doesn't mean that your kid isn't going to respond in anger because that's how they maybe feel like they have control of a situation.
[00:35:01] And so all you can really work on is you. And this is one of those things where I feel like being able to model a good behavior is is going to go Incredibly far with your kids, whether it's modeling an apology or modeling, taking ownership or accountability or modeling, that I'm going to go into a situation and not resort to a anger response, because when you're in a calmer state, you know, that's when you can take steps to actively problem solve issues or express yourself in a more productive manner. And Amy, talks about increasing your emotional intelligence can prevent you from saying and doing the things that you might later regret. And I talk often about my emotional baseline concept that self care is not selfish. And so I feel like it's important to fill your tank first or to grab your mask first. Before I was doing the I'm drawing a blank here. But when you're in the airline, when you're when you're flying, you know, the oxygen mask that put your oxygen mask on first before helping others or get to higher ground before you can lift someone else or all those wonderful cliches, but you do need to have yourself in a really good spot to be able to recognize, deal with and work through anger so that you aren't necessarily just working out of this emotional response. I would encourage you to go listen to an episode I did a couple of weeks ago on self differentiation.
[00:36:16] That one I've gotten. If you didn't listen to it because it sounds boring, that one, I've received an incredible amount of feedback because what a self differentiation means is that is being able to still maintain a connection with someone, but also being able to have your own opinions and thoughts. And one of the biggest keys of self differentiation is being able to separate your emotions from your logic. Because we get so caught up in our feelings, we get so caught up in our emotions that that can hijack us in attempting to have a positive, productive conversation. So I am going to call it good right there. I do have and maybe I was laughing at one point where I was telling someone that I'm really good at saying, here's what you will make this a part one and part two. I'll talk about these other things and then I'll fix the HDD. I don't know what what that would be if impulsivity of putting out a podcast or what's hot that week in my mind. But sometimes I don't get to a part two. But when I initially thought about doing a podcast on anger and I found these seven myths of anger from Amy, which I really appreciated using a basis to have this episode, I also found a book that was talking about 50 psychological.
[00:37:25] I don't know if it said myth's or not, but Methy was it's better to express anger to others than to hold it in. And it but it just goes heavy into the data, which I think is really, really fascinating. But maybe I'll talk about that in a future episode. But in essence, it has the data, the research all the way back from a lot of research done back in the 80s and 90s and then the early 2000s on the fact that, yeah, and expressing yourself with anger is not the healthiest way to deal. You don't have to go punch the punching bag or break the dishes or yell to use a primal scream that it is more productive and healthy to be able to learn to deal with one's anger as far as calming oneself down, because now you're going to start setting this new neural pathway of when I get angry, I am going to eventually breathe and calm down and your brain's going to start preloading that that program and you will find yourself surprisingly calm and even some of the most triggering of situations like when I started this podcast today, having someone completely cut you off right in traffic and realizing that's interesting or having your kid really come in hot or angry because they feel guilty or they they're you know, they don't want to deal with their own primary emotion and having you not react. And it's an amazing, fascinating thing to do.
[00:38:42] It's the end of the episode. And I once again skipped right past the Betterhelp.com/irtual couch ad that I had planned on throwing in earlier. So if you happen to still be listening, I would just love to encourage you to go to Betterhelp.com virtual couch. You'll get 10 percent off your first month services of online therapy. I got a little tag lines here that might as well read them. What are you waiting for? Your you owe it to yourself to at the very least, just check it out. Go ahead. And whether you're dealing with depression, anxiety, some of the frustrations of getting back to some sort of normalcy in your life, Betterhelp.com has a bunch of licensed professionals that you can connect with. And up to 24 to 48 hours, you can communicate with them through text, email, that sort of thing. So go to Betterhelp.com, slash virtual couch for 10 percent off your first month services. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for listening to the podcast. If you're still listening to me, maybe you're doing something where you don't have access to your hands. If you if you feel so inclined, feel free to go hit a rate or review wherever you listen to your podcast that always helps other people find the episode. And if you found something productive today, feel free to share this episode on social media with a friend, that sort of thing.
[00:39:52] So have an amazing day. And taking this out, as per usual, is a wonderful, a talented Florence with my favorite song.